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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dean's Column (March 2015)

Dear Extension retirees,

I am looking forward to seeing many of you this summer during our retiree luncheons!

To make it more convenient, we have added a third lunch (in southern Minnesota). In addition to the Twin Cities event on July 29, I will also be hosting a lunch in southern Minnesota on June 17 and in central/northwest Minnesota on Aug. 3.

I always enjoy hearing about your latest travels, adventures and projects, and it is a pleasure to share the latest Extension news with you as well.

Please join us for one of the luncheons:

Southern Minnesota Luncheon, Wednesday, June 17, 12-2 p.m., Owatonna Holiday Inn, 2365 43rd St. NW, Owatonna

Twin Cities Luncheon, Wednesday, July 29, 12-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville

Central/NW Minnesota Luncheon, Monday, Aug. 3, 12-2 p.m., Best Western The Falls Inn/Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls

Please RSVP to Wan Tansatit, Extension development office, at (612) 624-7971 or with your name and the luncheon location you will be attending.

I look forward to seeing you!

Bev Durgan

Extension at the Capitol

On Feb. 3-4, more than 60 Extension stakeholders and staff participated in the University's annual Legislative Action Day. Members of Extension's statewide advisory committees, representatives from county Extension committees, 4-H youth ambassadors and Extension staff learned more about the University's biennial request and then met with their legislators to express their support for Extension and the University.

On Feb. 17, Extension joined the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), in presenting to the House Ag Finance Committee. The hearing provided an opportunity to speak with legislators on how Extension, CFANS and CVM serve Minnesota and the agriculture community.

4-H Celebration of Agriculture

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation hosted the second annual 4-H Celebration of Agriculture on Feb. 21 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. It was a great celebration of our statewide friends and supporters, and a chance to demonstrate the impact of Minnesota 4-H. Teams from the 4-H Science of Agriculture initiative shared their ongoing research projects with attendees, showing how 4-H provides hands-on learning opportunities for Minnesota's next generation of agricultural leaders. Watch for a story about 4-H Science of Agriculture in the Spring-Summer issue of Source magazine! You can also visit Extension's Facebook post to see photos taken at the event. Sponsors included Jennie-O, Compart Family Farms, Minnesota Pork Board, Minnesota Farmers Union, and AgStar.

New leadership for Extension Center for Community Vitality

On Feb. 1, Kent Olson began his new leadership role as interim associate dean for the Extension Center for Community Vitality. Kent has been an Extension economist since 1985, working in applied research, on-campus teaching and Extension education. He served as an Extension program leader from 2004 to 2011.

After receiving his bachelor's, master's and doctorate from Iowa State University, Kent was an Extension economist at University of California, Davis before coming to Minnesota. His research has emphasized farm level management issues such as production efficiency, the interaction between farming and the environment, decision-making, and the impact of government policies. He published two books on farm management and numerous publications. He has worked in Sweden, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia, India, Poland and Italy.

Development news

The first project funded by the new Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Endowment Fund is underway. Through this fund, Amanda Sames, a Ph.D. student at the U's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences, is undertaking a community research project on developing markets for Minnesota-grown hazelnuts. Sames is supporting the Fairmont-based Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation during the University's spring semester.

The Page Fund, named in honor of former University of Minnesota Regent and Renville County Commissioner Mary Page (1934-2013), supports University of Minnesota graduate and advanced undergraduate students working on community identified and requested research projects. Funding for students is administered through the University's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. Grants are advised by Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP), which Mary Page helped found. Extension's RSDP facilitates community-university projects in the areas of sustainable agriculture and local food, natural resources, tourism and resilient communities, and clean energy.

Updated Extension fact sheet available

An updated Extension fact sheet is now available on the intranet and public website. The 2015 edition features updated information about Extension's reach, impact and funding. It is an excellent resource for acquainting new audiences with Extension's work and mission.

Epsilon Sigma Phi

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) is our Extension professional organization focused on connecting Extension staff and retirees to build networks, continuity and support for Extension. With over 150 retirees and 40 annual members in Minnesota, please consider joining ESP. In addition to reconnecting with Extension and colleagues, there are a number of other benefits, including access to ESP scholarship and grants and opportunities to mentor new Extension staff. Learn more of the member benefits at ESP.

Our ESP goals for 2014-2015 are to increase the number of members, enhance the engagement of membership, increase scholarship opportunities for members, as well as recognize the high quality work of our membership through state and national awards. You can play a major role in helping achieve all of these goals. Become a life member for the one-time fee of $250. The yearly membership is $70 and an associate membership (Extension staff employed less than 3 years) is $30. Please contact me with any questions you might have when joining ESP, (507) 389-6721 or

Kelly Kunkel

ESP-Pi Chapter President

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